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SAP Inspires Mentor

graphic depiction of game pieces arranged like they are in a classroom

Many parent mentors work beyond the boundaries of their school districts on regional and statewide boards.  Chatham County Parent Mentor Juliet Hardeman has served on the State Advisory Panel for two years.  She shared a little about her experiences.


Q. When did you become a member of the State Advisory Panel?

A. Sept 2015   It is a three-year term.  The SAP usually meets in Macon but we have had meetings at a couple of different locations in the state this last year.

Q. Can you describe your experiences as a member of SAP?

A. We hear presentations on educational practices that impact SWD from GA DOE staff. Presentations by other state agencies such as GVRA, DBHDD, University System of Georgia, etc… are also shared with us by representatives.   We are given opportunities to make public comment on practices and share our perceptions of how the information/practice looks in our communities.   We also have committees such as public comment, family engagement, membership, etc….   It is very beneficial to hear a diverse group’s opinions on key education topics.  We have a very lively discourse on different education processes during our meetings. The SAP is 51% parents of SWD or individuals with disabilities.  I found that many of the SAP members were not familiar with the GA PMP and our role in school districts.  As a SAP member, I have had opportunities to meet representatives at the state level from the agencies and also talk more  with fellow parents of SWDs from around the state.

Q. Can you share about  inspiring moments you have experienced from this advocacy work?

A.One of Georgia’s student successes, Joshua Williams, addressed the Special Education State Advisory Panel, and I doubt that there was a dry eye in the room. Joshua shared his personal journey to achieve a diploma, which included lots of great advice for every educator. He advocated for himself and didn’t accept “no” as an answer. Mr. Williams is currently pursuing a post-secondary opportunity and personally thanked Georgia Schools Superintendent Richard Woods and his leadership team for the work they have done to alleviate barriers to graduation. Way to go, Joshua!”

Read Joshua’s blog to learn more about his journey to get that high school diploma and to learn about his hopes and dreams for his adult life.

Historically, the SAP did not receive much public  comment and rarely had a person give public comment in person.  The SAP has made a concerted effort to reach out through many channels to get the word out about the SAP and the purpose of public comment.  Joshua’s story is particularly inspiring due to the focus on the SSIP and because his mother, Mitzi Proffitt, (who currently serves as director of support services for Parent to Parent of Georgia,) advocated for him, with him and still today, uses their family experience to inspire other families to set the bar high.

Other inspiring moments from the SAP are the stories from the individual members of the SAP.  They share what brought them to this work, their connection to schools, their beliefs in providing opportunities for a great education for all.

Q.How has it, if at all, informed the work you do as a parent mentor?

A. It has helped me see the bigger picture of what GA DOE brings to my school district and community.  Hearing comments from the SAP members, both positive and negative about education in Georgia helps me develop better workshops for parents on issues that I did not believe were that important before.

Q. How do you become a member of SAP?

A.  It is an application process on the GA DOE site under Special Education Services.  The SAP is accepting applications for membership at this time and has several congressional districts ( areas) without representation.  The SAP would like the GA PMP to share the info on the SAP and the application with the families they support in their school districts.